The Promise Ring / The Bailey Hounds - Live in Philadelphia (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Promise Ring / The Bailey Hounds

Live in Philadelphia (2012)

live show

"Thanks for coming out to Riot Fest." – Davey von Bohlen

Fans excited to see the Promise Ring at the canceled Riot Fest East got a much better deal when the reunited emo/indie rock act rolled into Philadelphia July 19. Instead of having to shell out extra money to see their beloved band on a giant stage with dubious sound, they got to see TPR in the tiny, sweaty First Unitarian Church basement with opening act the Bailey Hounds. That the band could pull together the show in very little time with a single post to Facebook and Twitter, and, an anonymous source told me, sell more tickets in seven minutes than Riot Fest East ever did, was a nice little bonus for everybody. Sometimes DIY works out.

Pity the Bailey Hounds, though. They weren't originally advertised as being on the bill, and people totally talked over them while they played a quick 30-minute-ish set. Me, though, I dug 'em. They played fragile alt-country with a slight late period Replacements edge. Sort of like Lucero, except their songs were about the devil instead of beers. That's something I can always get behind. Only complaint: The band sometimes ended songs just as they hit a nice groove. Granted, they were the opening act, but I'd love to hear what the Hounds' songs sound like when they have some more room.

Still, that's not why we all crammed into a hot basement. We came for the one Ring to rule us all, and gosh dang did they deliver. I'm a big Davey von Bohlen fan. With all the bands he's been in past and present, I'm comfortable calling him a musical genius on par with, say, Lennon/McCartney. I gush like this because I want you to understand that I went in super duper giddy yet full of expectations, and still had those hopes blown away. While opening selection "Size of Your Life" was a little rough (Dan Diddier was a little out of synch on drums there), the majority of the group's 90-minute set slayed.

The Promise Ring covered all of their releases, including the EPs. I lost my shit when they ripped through Electric Pink's "Make Me a Mixtape," because it's my favorite TPR song, because I was wearing a Hüsker Dü shirt and I totally didn't plan that, because holy butts you guys. The crowd in general, though, went off for the Nothing Feels Good material. That album still looms massive in emo's history, and rightfully so. Still, the tracks that surprised most came from Wood/Water. Remember when that was like an alienating artistic departure? Turns out, those songs fit in with the band's other material way better than anybody realized at the time. Nothing Feels Good has all those peppy rockers, but regular set closer "Get On the Floor" boasted a massive outro that just decimated the air. It was so much louder and monolithic than its studio counterpart. Then again, just as I saw with Maritime, von Bohlen and Diddier rock a lot harder live.

von Bohlen was in top form, trading jokes with the audience throughout the night. The whole band passed out water bottles to the audience to combat the heat. Oh yeah, and they played an awesome, diverse set. What started off as a corporate festival stop-off for the band was upgraded to a better, more intimate venue, and yield a longer set that they would have played had Riot Fest East actually occurred. The Promise Ring will almost certainly go back to the background after 2012, but on this particular night, with this particular crowd, they rallied back hard and put new life into old songs.

Set list
Size of Your Life
Happiness is All the Rage
Emergency! Emergency!
Jersey Shore
Red & Blue Jeans
Make Me a Mixtape
The Sea of Cortez
Nothing Feels Good
Become One Anything One Time
Skips a Beat (Over You)
The Deep South
Stop Playing Guitar
How Nothing Feels
Is This Thing On?
Perfect Lines
B is For Bethlehem
Picture Postcard
Tell Everyone We're Dead
My Life is At Home
Get On the Floor

Feed the Night
Why Did We Ever Meet
Red Paint
Everywhere in Denver
Forget Me